A couple of new recipes tried

So a little catching up here — over the weekend, I did something which I thought I had tried before but apparently not, a zucchini, fennel and white bean pasta:

Zucchini, fennel and white bean pasta

Quite delicious — the recipe is here, and as always I removed the salt (seeing as the goat cheese would add enough as it stood).

The other day, wanting something a little lighter, I settled on a snow pea and carrot salad with miso-tamari dressing:

Snow pea and carrot salad with miso-tamari dressing

Now this to me was the real winner, good as the pasta was — a wonderful blend of flavors and textures all around, and a very simple recipe at that. More stuff to come later in the week…

Orzo salad with radish and fennel

Orzo salad

This was kinda nice to find, a good way to use a variety of different things I had around at once. Here’s the recipe — a great dish for the hotter days.

Roquefort pear salad

Roquefort pear salad

So this was a fun recipe to try — prepared for a monthly get-together with friends; I seem to have become the ‘salad guy’ of late but I don’t mind at all, as this almost always gives me a chance to use more of my CSA basket than I might normally.

I received the recipe via my CSA newsletter — a couple of variations: I didn’t add any salt (the Roquefort has enough already!) and instead of candying the pecans I simply bought some prepared but unsalted fragments. Meanwhile I only used one tablespoon of sherry vinegar and smaller amounts of the sugar and mustard in the dressing. While this reduced the full taste range of the dish on the one hand, on the other I felt it was a better balance as well as being a bit healthier.

• 1 head leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
• 3 pears – peeled, cored and chopped
• 5 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled
• 1 avocado – peeled, pitted, and diced
• 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
• 1/4 cup white sugar
• 1/2 cup pecans
• 1/3 cup olive oil
• 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard
• 1 clove garlic, chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. In a skillet over medium heat, stir 1/4 cup of sugar together with the pecans. Continue stirring gently until sugar has melted and caramelized the pecans. Carefully transfer nuts onto waxed paper. Allow to cool, and break into pieces.
2. For the dressing, blend oil, vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, mustard, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper.
3. In a large serving bowl, layer lettuce, pears, blue cheese, avocado, and green onions. Pour dressing over salad, sprinkle with pecans, and serve.

Chard salad with pomegranate and honey mustard vinaigrette

Chard salad

And hurrah for serendipity. So for the first time I’d received a pomegranate in my latest basket the other week, though I wasn’t too sure what to do with it. I’d had some juice before but never worked with the fruit itself, so I set it aside with a ‘well I’ll get back to it’ thought.

Meantime I had a slew of chard to deal with as well. In searching for kale salad recipes, though, I found this recipe via the Not Eating out in New York blog, and even though it’s using Tuscan kale instead of chard, nothing ventured nothing gained! The great part was that it included pomegranate even though I hadn’t been using that as a search term, so I took it as an omen.

Chard and kale, while close enough, aren’t quite the same thing, but I’ve had good enough experience with both in its raw state that I figured it couldn’t hurt to substitute and see what happened. This was all very easy to prepare — strips and cut the leaves finely, get the seeds from the pomegranate, mix up the vinaigrette, toss and eat.

Kale and carrot salad

Kale and carrot salad

So this one grew out of the fact I had plenty of kale around, not much lettuce and little desire to cook or steam the kale, especially in this weather. As I had a lot of carrots too I did a bit of scrounging and found this recipe (it downloads as a PDF), which as it states:

This is a new twist on kale because it is not cooked. The acid from the lemon and orange juice actually soften and sweeten the kale.

Which it did! Extremely enjoyable results and a good hot weather dish, so give it a whirl…

Another cucumber salad plus a little more

Salad, noodles and more

So following on from my post of the other day, my friend Anji Bee noted over on Facebook that she’d done a Japanese variant on a cucumber salad, involving rice vinegar, soy sauce and seaweed. She mentioned aji nori furikake whereas I only had kizami nori around but as I did have that plus the other ingredients, I felt I should give it a whirl.

But this was also a classic case of wanting to clear out a couple of things before my next basket tomorrow. I had no tomatoes left but I did have a bit of tofu I wanted to finish up, already baked and marinated. So I chopped up some to mix with the salad as it stood, while the rest I mixed with some buckwheat noodles I had left that had been cooked then chilled, topped with some soba sauce and a sprinkling of ichimi togarashi for bite. The result — perfectly filling while not being too heavy. And again, in warm weather, a cool meal is the way to go!

A basic enough cucumber/tomato salad

Cucumber/tomato salad

I haven’t been posting too much in the way of my own cooking/kitchen work lately because I’ve basically been indulging in a variety of salads — the hot weather combined with resultant laziness means I’m much more interested in something easily prepped and eaten like a good salad, with some bread or something similar to the side.

But this isn’t to say one can’t get quite creative with salads, of course, and there’s endless possibilities. The other day, though, I figured a basic cucumber/tomato salad would do the trick, but wanted to see what others had done; after a quick scrounge around the web I did one version of this the other night, then this one here for lunch.

In both cases, again, simplicity is the key — all you really need is a cucumber and a tomato and there you go. Where something more comes in lies in the additions and the preparation — the dressing used, for example, was a homemade white balsamic vinaigrette, itself stupidly easy to make, with good olive oil and a white balsamic vinegar plus thyme and oregano and a dash of pepper. The other night I also included some diced tofu for protein and to soak up some more of the flavor; this version removes the tofu (I didn’t want a too heavy lunch) but adds fresh chopped basil. Both the basil and the tomato came from my garden, adding to the simple joy of that ever excellent combination. Finally the cucumber was quartered and had its seeds removed, but I retained the skin. A bit more pepper on the top was all that was needed.

Again, hardly the most surprising creation, but the joy should be good nourishment, good taste and something that works well with where you’re at. This did the trick, the rest follows!